I recently listened to a sermon by John MacArthur called How to Recognize a Real Church. Here is a sampling of it:
“One of my friends recently wrote a little article pointing out that the church is indicted repeatedly today as a failure–the church has failed. Look at the world; that’s evidence of the church’s failure. Look at America and its moral decline and its abandoning of Scripture.
There’s very little question that we’re on a path and it goes like this: Step one is to eliminate the Bible–out of the public discourse, out of everything. Step two, then, is reverse morality. Do what Isaiah 5 says, turn bitter into sweet, sweet into bitter, light into dark, dark into light, good into bad, bad into good. And now the crime is not to affirm homosexuality, not to affirm immorality. Flip morality on its head. The third step is demand tolerance. The fourth step is intolerance of those who are not tolerant. And the fifth step is persecution. And we’re fast moving toward that last step of persecution.
You look at the world around you and people are saying, Look, this is where we are, the church is about to be persecuted. That’s how far we’ve gone and that’s an evidence of the church’s failure. Look at the state of the nations. Look at the state of the planet. The church has failed and so the church has to change its strategies, we’re told.
But the truth is this – the church can only fail in one way. If it has failed, it has failed in one way. It has failed to be biblical. That is the only way the church can fail. If the church is faithful to the Word of God, it cannot fail. If the church lives and proclaims the Word of God, it does not fail. It cannot fail because God accomplishes His purpose through His Word. He saves through His Word, He sanctifies through His Word. He provides grace through His Word.
There’s only one way the church can fail and that’s to fail to be biblical. It isn’t a question of failing in its strategies. It isn’t a question of failing to connect with the culture. It’s not failing in its marketing. If the church has failed, it has failed in one way – it has failed to be biblical. And frankly, there are many so-called churches who have really failed to be biblical.”